Information Competency: Mixed Media Alternative Instruction
A CCCCO Grant Project, December 2003

Table of Contents

Project Summary
Project Activities
Project Evaluation: Activities that were particularly effective in reaching project goals and outcomes
Project Evaluation: Activities that were not effective in reaching project goals and outcomes
Local Institutionalization efforts
Project Recommendations
General Comments





Chancellor’s Office, California Community College (CCCCO) Fund for Instructional Equipment (FII) Grant Number: 02-168-005

Amount Awarded: $48,053 for FY2002-2003; August 1, 2002December 31, 2003

Project Title: Information Competency: Mixed Media Alternative Instruction

Project Monitor: Carolyn F. Norman, Chancellor’s Office, California Community College

Project Team: Shuk C. Auyeung, Project Director; Donald Hausrath, Project Consultant; Jo Anne Howell, Distance Education Coordinator, and Kaye Bedell, Allied Health Director.



In this information age, being digitally connected is becoming crucial to economic, educational and social advancement. A new role for library faculty is assisting discipline faculty and students in identifying and evaluating information sources. We proposed a single objective project to develop and evaluate prototype modules for the integration of cable TV, canned video and web-based distance education to improve teaching and learning of information competency in selected disciplines for underserved populations to increase student access and success.

We sought to lessen the digital divide, easing students into higher education and lifelong learning. We made use of a production partnership with the newly established Gavilan Educational cable channel for maximum use of our limited resources. All project activities were satisfactorily completed as planned.


Project Progress


All project activities were ceased as instructed by January 23, 2003 due to the State budget crisis.  The revised budget and workplan to meet the required 25% fund reduction were approved in May, with the current term of agreement made from July 10 to December 31, 2003.  Planning and development was delayed and some aspects of the project curtailed.


Since Gavilan College has been active in the development of online courses and online modules, particularly in interleaving course-specific information competency training into online courses, we experimented with what we saw as the next step – developing and evaluating prototype modules for the integration of IC competencies via cable TV, canned video and web-based distance education into various courses. We asked ourselves if providing a visual component, supplementing our online courses and course modules, would enhance learning, particularly with visual learners to provide a richer “classroom” experience -- rather than the somewhat anonymous online student-teacher relationship.  Using a mix of discipline and library faculty, the institutional researcher, theater arts students and the Gavilan Channel, we developed and assessed the effectiveness of several modules. Another goal, to experiment with this mix of media and online instruction, was for faculty staff development. That goal was also met.  In sum:


  • We developed an effective working relationship with GAVTV, Gavilan Cable Channel 18, with two of our video productions broadcast at various times to the 15,000 households in the cable footprint, and learned of the positive PR such an activity engenders.
  • We demonstrated the effectiveness of mixed-media instruction.
  • Faculty in the English, Library, Theater Arts, and Allied Health departments learned new techniques and strengthened working relationships between departments and the library – enhancing symbiosis.


Our original plan was to enhance one library (LIB3) and two Allied Health classes (AH3 and AH11), working with CMAP. We revised our proposed project; substituting the Theater Arts project for AH3 due to copyright issues. We ended up with two experimental classes – LIB3 and Thea3, with AH3 almost ready to go live in spring 2004.  Instead of collaborating with CMAP, we worked closely with Channel 18, the Gavilan Channel.


  • Nine faculty members in three departments learned effective ways to make use of the resources of the media center, library, Theatre Department and Channel 18.
  • For LIB3 Internet and Information Competency, 13 recent off-the-shelf videos were reviewed and found wanting. We scripted and produced two video modules, which were tested not only in Lib 3 but also in two English 250 (remedial writing) classes, as well as in Allied Health 11 Nutrition. Student evaluation was positive, but we discovered the students as a group were needful of IC training beyond the email level, having trouble responding to the online quiz.  
  • For the class Theater Arts 3, we developed a four-week online/lecture class integrating online assignments on information competency with local Hispanic theater history. Evaluation results showed 71% to 100% positive rankings on each query. The instructor “loved it.”
  • Students in one section of Allied Health Nutrition viewed the OPAC module; students in another section did not. The class that viewed the video scored 12.72 percent higher on the assignment than the other. (82.86 vs. 70.14 %). Class assessment of the module: 89% ranked the module helpful. Over half the responses noted that easy to follow steps to do each activity were its outstanding feature. 
  • We tested our OPAC module in English 250 with one class, and compared the results with a class that heard the same information from a live librarian.  The scores showed an unanticipated result: the students were too untrained in information competency skills to pass a simple online test on the topic.  Neither class did well.

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Activity 1: Research and Course Development


The project team identified specific topics that would be reinforced by video segments. Two were developed for Library 3. Planned video modules for use with the Allied Health class (part of a textbook package) were not authorized by the publisher for cable broadcast. Instead, CDs were distributed to students. A search of the literature in health education identified many useful documents on the development and the assessment of media products in the health field. A review of off-the-shelf videos that could be used with the courses found 13 recently produced videotapes related to our topic. All were inadequate; usually providing too broad a presentation; not the detailed presentation our students need. Many were obsolete. No publishers would provide authorization for free cable broadcast, nor would they authorize using excerpts of the tapes. Thus, we had to produce our own. The video segments identified for the original AH course we were investigating, The Person in the Life Cycle, were supplements to a textbook, and were truly outstanding productions. However, again copyright restrictions disallowed broadcast via our cable network. Publisher produced CDs were distributed to students. The AH department is exploring a variety of options involving CD distribution to students rather than cable broadcast. We developed an online segment not originally proposed, a short-termed course with online information competency components for the Theater Arts department.


Activity 2: Produce Video Programs


Two video programs were produced; three were storyboarded. One was on using the online public access catalog (OPAC) and the other on researching online. Library staff identified the key concepts, storyboarded the narrative, and working with the Theater Arts department and the distance education coordinator, revised the scripts to provide a useful product. Students and our Reference Librarian were our “talent” and our media center director served as cameraman and technical consultant.   To enhance interest, we used costumed actors rather than a talking head. Given the delay in funding, the storyboard designed to recruit seniors into an information competency class was not filmed.


Objective 3 Develop Online IC Modules


Since the college had switched from one classroom management system to another ( WebCT to ETUDES), faculty members needed to learn to use the new system. We (1) revised our previously produced information competency online components to work with ETUDES; (2) updated the web-based assignments and rewrote segments of the online components to integrate the OPAC module into the assignment process, (3) revised the online pretest and post test for our Library 3 class;(4) developed a four-week online course supporting a Theater Arts course in the local Hispanic theater and (5) revised the online segments of the Allied Health Nutrition course.


Activity 4:  Teach At Least One of the Experimental Classes


A revised Library 3 class was offered in the fall semester. which made use of the OPAC module and whose students were tested and asked for their assessment . An Allied Health instructor used the newly revised online modules and the OPAC video in one of her two Nutrition classes. By testing both sections we were able to assess the usefulness of the OPAC module via-a-vis the traditional online class that did not use the module. We developed information competency components for a four-week online module for the Theater Arts class on local Hispanic theater, and tested the OPAC module with that class as well. The Allied Health Department is using concepts and processes learned in this project to develop a new online health education class.


Activity 5: Collect Assessment Data Sets


Four test instruments and assessment tools were developed using the project consultant, faculty members and the campus director of research. Meaningful results are incorporated in this report. These instruments were:


  • A revised pretest and post test for our Lib. 3 assessing IC competencies.
  • A student/faculty survey for the Theater Arts class to assess whether information competency components enhance the class.
  • A video evaluation form used with students viewing the OPAC module.
  • A Likert-scaled evaluation form for faculty involved in using the modules.


Activity 6: Evaluate All Pilot Programs


The project consultant and the college director of research have reviewed the findings. The director of research will assess follow-up information related to students involved in these projects. The data sets collected have been reviewed and results included in this report. We have met with the Gavilan Grants Officer who recommended further development of some of our findings, noting that this project has produced relevant data useful for future planning and experimental projects.


Activity 7. Reports and Dissemination


This project report will be posted on the Library website:   Participants have reported the progress of this project to various segments of the College, including the grant writer, the Director of Research, and the Executive Director of GAVTV, Channel 18. Opportunities abound for presentation of the results of this project to be provided to the consortia and library groups.

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Activities that were particularly effective in reaching project goals and outcomes


Our various assessment instruments as well as one-on-one interviews identified facets of the two experimental courses that were particularly effective.


LIB 3 Video Segments


Faculty participants “strongly agreed” (the highest positive rating on our Likert scale) that the video segments a) showed evidence of understanding key concepts relevant to the course objectives; b) information presented was helpful in explaining and reinforcing one or more key course concepts for students; c) progressed at a suitable pace, adequate to cover the aspects of the course; d) collaboration was most beneficial to their courses. The Theater Arts instructor noted that this collaboration was very helpful in designing student assignments and increasing communication.


There was a spectrum of rankings from “somewhat disagree” to “strongly agree” on whether the video segments were useful in reinforcing key concepts for students working in English as a second language.  The Allied Health Chair, however, underscored the need to provide clear and easily repeated modules on key concepts for these students.


The Executive Director of GAVTV stated the modules are excellent model “benchmarks” on how to marry scripts with specific educational objectives.


Participants noted two errors that crept into the research video due to a faulty review process. Correcting errors is often difficult, given the cost of re-shooting the scene, and delimits use of the product.


We learned that broadcasting via cable, even our brief library modules, had serendipitous effects. Community members who would not otherwise have any knowledge of particular courses or services saw the two modules on the library and remarked to various interviewees that they had no idea that such programs and services were there.


Student assessment of the OPAC module took place in two sections of English 250 and one section of Allied Health 11.  Of the 67 responses in three classes students “found the video helpful” 100% in one English class, 82% in another English class and 89% in the Allied Health class.


Thea 3


The instructor and her students enthused about the Theater arts online information competency components. The student survey showed 100% found the information competency exercises useful in enlarging their overall understanding of the course content – the social and cultural context of El Teatro Campesino.

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Activities that were not effective in reaching project goals and outcomes


Media Access Issues


Increasingly in the Allied Health field, textbook publishers are offering supplementary media that can be acquired on videocassette or CDs. These copyrighted products are often very well done, but publishers almost always disallow rebroadcast on cable television. Further, the subject matter is often unsuitable for casual viewers.  Other alternatives are needed to provide reinforcing media for Allied Health classes.


Our Allied Health textbooks, increasingly, are providing CD/DVD supplements. Students lacking a decent home/office computer can only use the CDs on campus. Another obstacle is that the campus T1 line disallows, due to limited bandwidth, use of multiple requests for streaming videos.  Options for media distribution include a) allowing students to purchase the textbook and the CD; b) purchase from the publisher rights to reproduce a CD copy for each student in a class; c) allow students to view or borrow a video or CD from the library.


For other Gavilan online courses, for example Lib 3, where orientation and tests can be handled online, distribution of media modules continues to be a challenge. Students who do not have access to the local cable TV must acquire their modules offline. We experimented with publishing the modules on CDs, but few students actually used them. The experimental Library 3 class instructor offered several proposals to alleviate this problem, collecting an active e-mail address as well as valid mail address for enrolled students.


Information Competency Issues


We discovered our online test for assessing knowledge gained from watching the OPAC video segment had assumed a level of computer literacy that had not been reached by the majority of English 250 students. While the mostly unanswered questions on the quiz were detrimental to this study, this is an important finding.  It means that students, who need only pass the Eng 250 course to complete their English requirement for an AA degree, are not able to meet the assumed level of information competency.


A related issue is that students at the email and Google search level often judge themselves at computer competency/literacy level to “do research,” totally unaware that most of the world’s valid information is copyrighted, much published in book or magazine formats and only available from library subscription databases.

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Preceding the public showings on the Gavilan TV 18, a “Hollywood” type premier sponsored in April 2003 by the Associated Student Body celebrated the development of the LIB3 video segments, with 40+ student and faculty participants previewing the productions. A well-received briefing was presented to the Gavilan College Board of Trustees. Project information was shared with the College’s President, the VP of Instruction, the Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, our grant writer and the Director of Research, and will continue to be disseminated through course instructors involved with this grant project as well as by the Project team members. The Distance Education Coordinator serves on the Technology Committee and is the technology trainer. The Reference/Technology Librarian serves on the Curriculum Committee. The Project Director serves on the Staff Development Committees as well as library consortia. The library videos have continued to be aired on Channel 18.

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Information Competency and Student Success


1.      By the time students complete English 250, they should have Information Competency skills on the level with students who are in the Allied Health program. Such skills as using multiple windows, browser navigation, live vs. inactive buttons, and particularly, basic online research skills should be interleaved into one or more of their courses before they receive an AA degree.

2.      Video segments reinforce key course concepts, especially for students working in English as a second language. At Gavilan College, at least one in four of our students are using English as a second language. Retention and success rates of ESL students should be studied vis-à-vis courses offering such reinforcement.

3.      There is no easy answer to the problem of obsolete computers in student’s homes, or students lacking computers. For the foreseeable future, we should provide not only computers, but also various alternatives such as videocassettes and CDs, as well as broadcasting on Channel 18 to increase student access to assigned viewing of video modules.

4.      The Library should provide copies for loan and/or use in the library and procedures established to make certain that instructors do not overlook this. Other sites for access should also be factored in, particularly the Gavilan Morgan Hill site, since Morgan Hill residents are not linked to the Channel 18.


Online Classes


5.      The very effective communication tools available to us via online course management software such as ETUDES should not blindside us to the following facts-of-Internet-life. (1) Students can be overwhelmed by the number of comments in a course chat or discussion area, and not read all of these entries. (2) The instructor often needs to send a personal note directly to a student at the student’s e-mail address. Online classes at registration should make certain they have a personal e-mail address, a valid mail address and a phone number for each student. The most effective method of providing students’ access to video modules is to mail a CD to them. Our Fall 2003 online Library 3 class – on the whole – did not see the OPAC module because it was not considered a required part of the course and “not worth their time” to make a special trip to the library to watch it, or have a copy shipped to their home.

6.      Success/completion rates in community colleges are related to many factors, some of which should be taken into account in designing online classes. Any online instructor will tell you that it takes a degree of self-discipline to complete an online course. Students without this higher level of self-discipline often drop a class. Another factor is that many students enroll in just one course to “catch up” on something they need; they have no interest in taking other courses, or even taking the final if they think they have gained as much as they need from the class. This “sampling” of a course is reinforced by the remarkably inexpensive courses; it costs less to take a one credit online class than two movie tickets with popcorn: dropping a course is no great loss. ETUDES and other course management systems contain more bells and whistles than most students can deal with. Students often overlook instructions, or miss instructions regarding their next assignment. From interviewing online instructors, we know a factor in many students dropping a course is maturity and discipline.

7.      One of the reasons we wanted to address the issue of the older adult who needs information competency training is that they have been away from school, raising a family or engaged in outside employment and have a level of self-discipline that make them excellent candidates for online courses, once they overcome their initial fear of the computer and Internet. We recommend that if funds become available, we produce a video module for cable broadcast using the script addressing older adult fears in using a computer, and how their life will change once they learn the basics.

8.      The Theatre class on El Teatro Campesino that ranked the information competency online modules so highly suggests we make use of some of the factors that make that a successful project: (1) a focus on aspects of the area’s Hispanic heritage (2) good planning and enthusiastic execution by the instructor in tandem with the Distance Education Coordinator.


Video Productions


9.      In the step-by-step illustrated procedures showing a computer screen, we recorded from a feed linked to the computer. The result was that 10% of the students noted a “focus problem.” Propose in the future we explore alternative methods of capturing and filming on-screen operations.

10.  About 14% of the students rating the video termed the production “cheesy.” They are in some ways…these are not polished, highly edited products. It is important to communicate, in some manner, that we are making quick-and-dirty productions, accurate when produced, but with a limited life span and that parallel a live classroom illustration. Trying to make too polished a presentation requires staff time, script revisions, etc. that push the cost of production above reasonable, affordable limits.

11.  In recording the videos, certain demonstrations may be repeated a second time to assist in reinforcement and for those who missed something the first time through, particularly helpful for students working in English as a second language. As it was, a high percentage of students praised the clear and detailed instructions on the tape.

12.  One of the common positive comments from students in their evaluations was that the tapes held their interest. Using an articulate instructor and setting a scene whereby we are watching one person helping another rather than a talking head are obvious recommendations. And while online assignments should focus on research tools central to the course objectives, an effort should be make to find illustrations that connect with student interests.


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Once again, we found the most useful byproduct of such an exercise was what we learned about each other’s programs, and how various faculty members, departments, and services and college-supported technology can enrich our teaching.  We are particularly in debt to the College’s interest in and support of distance education, and the fact that the College created the position of Distance Education Coordinator. Having such a resource on hand has led to a major expansion of quality distance education courses. A second recently discovered asset was the Theater Arts department whose students did so much to make the modules a success. And the third factor we want to mention is the remarkable support and cooperation we received from the Executive Director of GAVTV, Channel 18. 




1.      Two library video segments on OPAC and library research.

2.      Three information competency online modules for Theater 3 class on El Teatro Campesino.

3.      One script on online learning for adult learners.

4.      Five information competency online modules for Allied Health 3: The Person in the Life Cycle.

5.      Updated information competency online modules for Allied Health 11: Nutrition.

6.      Online quizzes and information competency tests.

7.      One report on this grant project available from the Gavilan library homepage:

8.      One PowerPoint presentation on information competency to the Gavilan College Board of Trustees.

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